2018 Hyundai Santro Manual Review: The Indian small car icon is back with a bang!

The Santro is back, and we drive the new avatar of one of India's favourite Small Cars to find out what really has improved, we evaluate the safety, engine and design of the new car and whether it still has what it takes to take on the Indian market in its second lease on life

By:Updated: Nov 08, 2018 11:01 AM
2018 New Hyundai Santro: Review 2018 New Hyundai Santro: Review

Hyundai Santro has finally been launched after months of speculation and wide-scale reporting. The reason the car managed to garner such an interest in the market is due to the grand success of the original Santro, which was launched way back in 1998. With a series of iterations following through the years, Hyundai Santro production was stopped in 2014. Hyundai later launched the entry-level Eon and the Grand i10 but the gap between these two cars, which is where cars such as Maruti Suzuki Celerio and Tata Tiago found many buyers. In order to plug this gap, the all-new Santro, which is based on a new platform is now on sale in the market and we’ve just come back after driving it in and around Bhubhaneshwar in Odisha. The new Hyundai Santro has big shoes to fit in and we tell you if it is good enough to repeat the success of its iconic predecessor.

Also Read: 2018 Hyundai Santro drives company’s highest ever sales in October: 1 Car sold every minute!

New 2018 Hyundai Santro Design

2018 New Hyundai Santro: Design2018 New Hyundai Santro: Design

The new Hyundai Santro follows the design approach of its predecessor by maintaining a tall-boy design and retains some of the quirkiness as well. The front with its wide and sharp grille gives the car a wide stance and wider it is than the previous model. However, the face might not win hearts in the first glance and could require some time to sink in. The sleek headlamps along with fog lamps sitting right underneath them give the car a modern touch.

Also Read: Top Selling Cars in India: New 2018 Hyundai Santro challenges Maruti Suzuki Swift

The headlamps also feature a boomerang-shaped curve, which has been carried on to the front side panels too. Further, a rising shoulder line along with flared up wheel arches at the rear do a good job of offsetting the tall-boy design, giving the car a sleeker side stance. The Santro comes only with steel wheels with decent looking wheel covers but the option of alloy wheels on top variants would have been a nice touch. At the rear, you’d find smart-looking tail lamps, which along with a dual-colour bumper lend the rear an attractive look.

Also Read: 21% of new 2018 Hyundai Santro are for CNG variant: High fuel prices drive sales

Overall, the Hyundai Santro manages to come across as a fresh-looking car in its segment and retains most of the visual attributes that customers loved in the original Santro. The fact that it is wider and longer and slightly shorter makes it look more in sync with design preferences of present buyers across age brackets.

New 2018 Hyundai Santro Engine, Gearbox

2018 New Hyundai Santro: Engine2018 New Hyundai Santro: Engine

The new Hyundai Santro is powered by a 1.1-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, which produces a peak power of 69 ps at 5,500 rpm and 99 Nm of torque at 4,500 rpm. There’s an option of a five-speed manual transmission or a five-speed AMT gearbox, which is a global first for Hyundai. The engine itself is refined for its class and it takes just a few minutes to realise and appreciate the fact that the engine, unlike some competitors is not a three-cylinder unit. Hence, vibrations are minimal and even while revving the motor or crawling in traffic, the unit remains vibe-free and smooth. One can also opt for a CNG version, which is claimed to run more than 30 km in a kilogram of CNG but I haven’t driven it so can’t speak for its performance.

2018 New Hyundai Santro: Colours2018 New Hyundai Santro: Colours

The transmission has been mated well to the motor and as a result, not too many gear shifts are required in traffic. We did encounter some inclined surfaces and the gearbox impressed us with its well-sorted ratios even there. As you read this story, I’ve only driven the manual variant so thoughts on the AMT unit will fly tomorrow. Coming back to the manual gearbox, throws are not too long and effortless, making it ideal for city usage. Anything above 1,200 rpm and you won’t feel any lag and once past about 3,000 rpm is where you can feel the best the engine has to offer. Closer to the 5,000 rpm mark the power starts to taper off but that’s perfectly fine as being a daily drive urban car the Santro should offer good drivability over anything else and that it does impressively. Being a short drive, I wasn’t able to record exact fuel-efficiency but the onboard computer displayed a figure of 15 kmpl, which is impressive considering I was being a bit harsh with the engine at times for testing sake.

The max speed I was able to achieve was 100 kmph and the engine at that speed wasn’t out of breath, making a good case for highway usage as well.

New 2018 Hyundai Santro Interior, Features

2018 New Hyundai Santro: Interiors & Features2018 New Hyundai Santro: Interiors & Features

The new Hyundai Santro can easily be termed as the most feature packed car in its segment right now. Taking centre stage inside the cabin is a 7-inch colour touchscreen with voice recognition and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. The system has an intuitive interface and the touch response to is good. What surprised me was the quality of sound from the factory-fitted speakers and most average buyers won’t require more than this for their music needs. Other key features include a reverse parking camera, which along with good all-round visibility makes it a breeze to park the Santro in tight spaces. The car also comes with Eco Coating, which debuted on the new Verna and the technology eliminated odour-creating bacterias leading to a cleaner and pleasant cabin environment.

An area where the new Hyundai Santro sets a new benchmark is the cabin design and material quality. The dashboard plastic quality is a notch above what you would find in this segment and the same goes for build quality as well. The propeller-type AC vents further add a dash of premium and energetic flavour to the cabin.

The seats at the front are easily the best in the segment, especially because of the good cushioning and side support. The rear seat also offers good comfort and good leg room, head room and shoulder room. Under thigh support is surprisingly good for a car of its size and the absence of any hump in the seat means that three passengers can sit more comfortably in the rear.

New 2018 Hyundai Santro Safety

2018 New Hyundai Santro: Safety 2018 New Hyundai Santro: Safety

Hyundai has carved a reputation for itself in terms of offering safe vehicles and the new Santro is no different. Based on a new platform, the new Santro is built with a stronger structure using Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS) and High Strength Steel (HSS). Even the base variants come with driver side airbag and ABS with EBD, while top variants offer front-dual airbags additionally.

New 2018 Hyundai Santro Verdict

2018 New Hyundai Santro: Verdict2018 New Hyundai Santro: Verdict

The new Hyundai Santro is an important car for Hyundai and the investment of Rs 700 crore in its development shows how serious the company is for it. The car sets a new benchmark in areas such as cabin design, material quality, safety and driving refinement. What it does miss out on is a bit on the variant packaging, especially the base variant, which misses out on AC. Also, the relocation of power window controls from the doors to the centre console was a slight usability issue for me but the cost-savings it creates justifies the move.

2018 New Hyundai Santro: Verdict2018 New Hyundai Santro: Verdict

Prices start at Rs 3.89 lakh for the Hyundai Santro but this is introductory pricing for first 50,000 customers only. I’ve come across some people finding the price to be on the higher side but we also need to understand that in a country with one of the highest road fatalities in the world, Hyundai is doing the right thing by not taking away safety features to offer a low sticker price. I find the car to offer high value-for-money in all variants except the base Dlite. This only means one thing that the Hyundai have got their homework right and I expect them to be the segment leaders considering they get over 23,000 bookings in the first 13 days! Things, however, will get more interesting when Maruti Suzuki launches the new Wagon R next year and the Santro will once again lock horns with its arch nemesis. Till then, if you’re in the market for a small yet spacious and practical car packed with features from the sub-compact sedan segment then the new 2018 Hyundai Santro is not only the best option right now but the only one as well.

VariantsPrices AMT CNG
2018 Hyundai Santro D-Lite:Rs 3.89 lakh
2018 Hyundai Santro Era:Rs 4.24 lakh
2018 Hyundai Santro MagnaRs 4.57 lakhRs 5.18 lakhRs 5.23 lakh
2018 Hyundai Santro SportzRs 4.99 lakh Rs 5.46 lakhRs 5.64 lakh
2018 Hyundai Santro ASTA:Rs 5.45 lakh


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